A Unique Speaker with Extraordinary Stories
Max's adventures can lead to shenanigans of Indiana Jones proportions ...
Fairplay International Shipping Weekly
... his life certainly reads like a Hollywood movie ...
UNO Alumni Magazine

Max Hardberger is an experienced public speaker with a rich collection of experiences in the maritime and aviation fields. His vivid presentations take the audience from steamy, lawless ports in the Caribbean to the ice-bound docks of Vladivostok, from the jungles of Central America to the sunny islands of the Mediterranean. And the characters—the scoundrels and scalawags, victims and victors, frauds and fakes—are the people of his world, sometimes funny, sometimes obsessed, sometimes self-destructive, but always fascinating. His colorful stories have been featured in the Los Angeles Times and his ship recovery memoir was released by the Broadway Books imprint of Random House on April 6, 2010 (U.S. hardcover edition) and Nicholas Brealey Publishing on June 24, 2010 (U.K. and Commonwealth paperback edition). A German-language edition published by Riva Verlag in November 2010. 

Max is available to tell his stories of adventure and survival in the hellholes of the world, whether in key note addresses, business-oriented speeches, or technical/training presentations. Click here to download Max's speaking brochure.

Adventures Max Can Share

Just some of the experiences that Max draws from include:

  • How to Steal a Ship: drawn from real-life experiences in finding and recovering stolen ships, this tongue-in-cheek presentation shows how modern-day pirates use audacity and ingenuity to steal ships, change their identities, and put them back to work in the world charter market.
  • The Russian Mafia in Vladivostok: When Max and a woman shipbroker from Seattle went on a ship-buying expedition to Vladivostok, Russia, shortly after it was opened to foreigners, they found themselves entangled with the Russian mafia when their Bulgarian translator starts doing secret business on his own. The story of how she got her revenge on the Bulgarian is a classic.
  • The 47 Cropdusters: An old cropdusting associate (Max was a cropdusting pilot in the 80's) called Max shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, looking for help in sneaking 47 cropdusting airplanes out of East Germany before West Germany could get its hands on them. The story of the hair-raising low-level flights of the cropdusters from Magdeberg to the seaport of Rostok, and their subsequent disappearance in the jungles of Venezuela, is both amazing and amusing, and, like all of Max's stories, full of exotic characters.
  • The 4,500 Tons of Rotting Chicken: When a Russian ship captain tried to conceal the fact that his ship's refrigeration system wasn't working, the result was a mess of mythic proportions, with Max trying to figure out what to do with a ship full of rotting, liquefying chicken parts.
  • "There I Was, Upside Down. . .": Max draws from 44 years of flying experience (he soloed at 16) to present a fascinating look at a life in the air. After holding jobs towing banners, dusting crops, teaching flying, flying corpses, running checks for the federal reserve system, and delivering planes to Central and South America, Max's stories span the gamut of flying adventures, from the sheer terror of an engine fire at 10,000 feet over a Mexican jungle to the humor of trying to start an airline in Haiti.
Upcoming Speeches

Max will give presentations to the following organizations/events:

  • 4th Annual Chief Security Officer Summit—Vienna—December 1, 2010—"Anti-Piracy Strategy and Tactics from 'The Good Pirate'"—Captain Hardberger's presentation, Anti-Piracy Strategy and Tactics from "The Good Pirate", includes (1) strategies for combating ship and cargo theft, including research, counter-intelligence, and preventative measures; (2) shipboard measures to repel pirate attack; and (3) techniques for finding and recovering stolen ships, often with hostile crews and armed guards onboard, in corrupt Third-World ports.
  • WorkBoat Show—New Orleans—December 3, 2010—"Anti-Piracy Measures from a Famous Pirate"—Capt. Max Hardberger is a well-known ship repossession expert and the author of the bestselling autobiography "Seized: A Ship Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates in the World's Most Troubled Waters" (Broadway Books, 2010). He also wrote "The Care and Prevention of Stowaways" (US DOT Maritime Security Handbook). He was the subject of an episode of The Learning Channel's "Repo Men" series, and is the inspiration for the upcoming major motion picture "The Good Pirate." Capt. Hardberger proposes to discuss shipboard security in high-risk ports. He brings his expertise in surreptitiously boarding ships with his repossession teams and stealing them out of port, often under cover of darkness, to this practical, hands-on approach to such topics as disinformation campaigns, guards and watchkeeping, anti-piracy and anti-boarding equipment, stowaway-prevention measures, and training crews to deal with armed and unarmed attack.
  • The Connecticut Maritime Association—Stamford—Spring 2011
  • Society of Maritime Arbitrators—New York City—Spring 2011
  • Tulane University—New Orleans—Spring 2011
Recent Speeches

Max recently gave presentations to the following organizations:

  • American Society of Appraisers
  • National Association of Marine Surveyors
  • Average Adjusters Association of the United States—New York City
  • Hamilton Port Days—Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • C-Port Conference (The National Association for the Marine Assistance Industry)
Booking Max

Max is available for presentations at select times during the year. He can tailor his services to meet the needs of your group. To inquire about booking Max to speak at your next event, please contact us at

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